Technology has always enabled people to connect and express themselves. As communication became faster, video became a richer way to share experiences. We’ve gone from desktop to web to mobile; from text to photos to video. But this wave of innovation isn’t slowing down, so what is the metaverse about and how will it change how we connect?
Imagine a set of digital spaces that you can move seamlessly between, an embodied internet, where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. Like the internet, the metaverse will help you connect with people when you aren’t physically in the same place. Although nothing beats being together in person, when it’s not possible, the metaverse will get us pretty close, because interactions in the metaverse will feel more like those we have in our daily lives.
To understand how it works, here are five facts you need to know about the metaverse.
1. What is the metaverse?
VR is one end of a spectrum. It stretches from using avatars or accessing metaverse spaces on your phone, through AR glasses that project computer-generated images onto the world around us, to mixed reality experiences that blend both physical and virtual environments.
While it feels like a far off vision, we can already experience glimmers of the metaverse today. Horizon Worlds is one of the best examples of the kind of metaverse experiences Meta is building – it won’t just be something that works on VR headsets, but also on mobile apps, websites and with portals into existing apps like Facebook and Instagram.
Avatars are going to be a crucial bridge into the metaverse. A digital avatar is an animated representation of yourself designed to capture the way you appear in a digital environment. Meta is already building out ways for people to better express themselves using Avatars today, by giving them ways to customise and use them easily across different apps.
2. The metaverse will not be built by one company
Like the internet, the metaverse won’t be built by one company. Meta’s role in this journey is to accelerate the development of the fundamental technologies, social platforms, and creative tools to bring the metaverse to life, and to weave these technologies through our social apps. But the experiences that people come to the metaverse to enjoy will ultimately be built by creators.
3. The metaverse may be virtual, but the opportunities it will unlock are real
The mobile internet has already allowed people to work, learn and socialise in ways that are less limited by their physical location. The metaverse is going to take that even further. Within the next decade, the metaverse is believed to drive digital commerce, change the way we work and support jobs for millions of creators and developers. And the potential societal benefits – particularly in education and healthcare – are vast, from helping medical students to practice surgical techniques to bringing school lessons to life in exciting new ways.
4. NFTs are important to the development of the metaverse
The metaverse will help us connect with each other in ways that improve our lives and open up new worlds of creativity and economic opportunity. In the metaverse, people will buy, use, and share digital goods, and experiences, and NFTs are a key piece of the puzzle for making this a reality. On Meta’s platforms, creators can already express themselves creatively, build and engage a fan community, and make money pursuing their passions. The company recently announced its first NFT offering—a test of digital collectibles on Instagram—and is taking important steps to encourage openness and innovation by enabling connection to multiple blockchains and wallets at the outset.
5. The metaverse will most likely impact our workstyle
With the effects of COVID on the working culture, working virtually is already a reality for many of us. Hybrid and remote work is here to stay and there’s a rapidly emerging need to support that shift with technology that brings people together. Meta is building Horizon Workrooms as entry points for the metaverse at work. Horizon Workrooms are virtual meeting spaces where you and your colleagues can work better together from anywhere—you can join a meeting in VR as an avatar or dial into the virtual room from your computer by video call.